Rep. McGovern to receive Chancellor’s Medal at 41st Commencement for career of service

Nine-term congressman will also deliver the Commencement address

By Ellie Castano and Mark L. Shelton

UMass Medical School Communications

May 21, 2014
Rep. James P. McGovern
Rep. James P. McGovern speaking at the opening of the Albert Sherman Center on Jan. 30, 2013.

Commencement 2014Since he was first elected in 1996 to represent the 2nd District of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives, James P. McGovern has been tirelessly advocating on behalf of the citizens of the region that he grew up in and still calls home. At the 41st Commencement Exercises on Sunday, June 1, Rep. McGovern will deliver the Commencement address and will be presented with a Chancellor’s Medal in recognition of his dedicated service to Central Massachusetts. He will also take part in recognizing Cherylann and Leonard Gengel, founders of the Be Like Brit Foundation and the Be Like Brit Orphanage in Grand Goâve, Haiti. The Gengels will be awarded honorary degrees at Commencement, as will H. Brownell Wheeler, MD, the founding chair of the Department of Surgery.

“Since his election in 1996, Congressman McGovern has been widely recognized as a tenacious advocate for his district, a relentless crusader for change, a steadfast champion for biomedical research and an unrivaled supporter for social justice and human rights,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins.

Currently serving his ninth term in Congress, McGovern sits on the House Rules and Agriculture Committees and co-chairs the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the House Hunger Caucus.

More on the 2014 Commencement honorees:
--Chancellor to honor Gengel family’s ‘extraordinary’ efforts to fulfill daughter’s last wish
--UMass Medical School’s first faculty member to receive honorary degree

In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and took the life of Lynn University student and Rutland, Mass., resident Britney Gengel, McGovern traveled to Haiti with family members of several of those who, like Britney, were working or volunteering in Haiti when the earthquake struck. Three years later he travelled again to Haiti with Cherylann and Len Gengel, Britney’s parents, for the dedication of the Be Like Brit Orphanage. The congressman later wrote the foreword to the Gengels’ book Heartache and Hope in Haiti, which chronicles their life-changing journey as they sought to find meaning in the loss of their daughter.

McGovern is an advocate for medical research and supports increased federal investment in the National Institutes of Health. As co-chair of the Cystic Fibrosis Caucus, he has utilized the example of advances against that disease to persuade colleagues of the health and economic value of medical research investment and, most importantly, of the powerfully transformative impact of research breakthroughs for patients and their families.

As a supporter of higher education and health care, McGovern has authored legislation to increase Pell Grant funding to allow more students access to higher education and has supported increased funding for graduate medical education to ensure that enough medical residency slots are available to train the nation’s next generation of physicians. As a champion of health care reform, he has undertaken legislative efforts to reduce the cost of home health care as a way to afford people the dignity of being cared for in their own homes with the help of medical professionals.

Prior to being elected, McGovern worked for 14 years as a senior aide to late U.S. Rep. Joseph Moakley.

Born in Worcester, McGovern earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Public Administration degrees from American University. He and his wife, Lisa Murray McGovern, have a son, Patrick, and a daughter, Molly, and reside in Worcester.